Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cat Cuteness

I felt the need to share this because a) it gave me a good laugh and b) I have a few blog reading friends that are big cat people. This sweet little kitty is blind, so I feel a little bad laughing at him, but he is just too adorable and cute and funny!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I'm sure by now there is virtually no one left who is still reading my blog, considering I've done such a terrible job updating it as of late. I had a burst of inspiration and created a new header a couple of weeks ago, but that was as far as I went--I never actually got around to writing anything. My 2012 resolution should definitely be to improve my blogging.

Since I failed to chronicle so much of our year here on the Chatter, I thought I would at least post our Christmas letter--it summarizes the events of 2011 rather nicely. Many of you have probably already received and read this, so please disregard if you're already on the Luce Family mailing list. For the rest of you, please accept our heartfelt wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

(click the above image to enlarge)

December 17, 2011

Dearest Friends and Family,

Once again I have completely procrastinated writing our annual Christmas greetings, so I hope this letter is actually reaching you all before the holiday! Hopefully all of your presents are wrapped and cookies are baked and everyone is now just enjoying wonderful food, time with family, a few days vacation, and the joy of the Christmas miracle

To avoid the normal monotony of our usual December letter, I thought this year I'd instead summarize the events of 2011 with month-by-month highlights. Here's what we were up to in the last 365 days!

January—We enjoyed tons of snow plus a wonderful visit from my brother. My favorite band (Old 97's) came to town and we saw a great show at the Bottleneck. I traveled to Topeka 2-3 days a week to spend time with my mom.

February—Although the outcome wasn't to our liking, we watched our Steelers play in the Super Bowl with a gathering of friends in our basement. For Valentine's Day, Chad took me to yet another 97's show on a fun weekend trip to St. Louis. We had tons more snow, which resulted in a fantastic day of sledding with our nephews Miles and Quinn. We made our first visit to EastLake Community Church, which would later become our new church home.

March—With the help of my brother, we threw a big 65th birthday party for my mom with about 40 guests. Our Jayhawks made it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament before losing to VCU.

April—Our sweet girl Hope had a benign tumor removed from her chest and another benign growth removed from her mouth. My dad and his wife Mim visited us from Ohio. I started volunteering in the kid's wing at our church.

May—Our little man Celtic was diagnosed with the same aggressive cancer that took his brother, and he passed away about 3½ weeks later at the end of the month. Although we were heartbroken, his passing was made so much easier by our preparedness. I stayed busy with photography, shooting portrait sessions, special events and adoptable dogs from a small local rescue. Chad started volunteering on the setup team at church, and we officially became members.

June—I spent several days hanging out with my college friend Kati when she visited Lawrence for her son's basketball camp. Chad and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary. I did lots of walking with my friend Faith and organized a walking group at church.

July—We visited our friends Jake and Amber in Kearney, Nebraska for the 4th of July. We helped my mom move from Topeka to Lawrence, and I was thrilled to be able to spend more time with her. My brother visited, as did my friend Emily and her sister. I shot another friend's family portraits and we saw another 97's show at Crossroads in Kansas City.

August—I walked in my sixth 60 mile 3-Day for the Cure, this time in Chicago with my friend Amber. We celebrated Hope's 11th birthday, and continued to be amazed that her deafness hasn't slowed her down. I started volunteering with my mom on Mondays at the food pantry where I volunteer some Saturdays.

SeptemberFresco turned five, and about that time we had a visit from my friend Michele, who currently lives in Africa. Chad and I went back to Chicago for a small vacation because I loved the city so much the previous month. I did a couple more volunteer photography gigs.

October—I shot three more portrait sessions and another special event—I think it's about time for me to start charging money! Dad and Mim visited again, and Chad and I started hosting a weekly church study group.

November—I co-hosted my third baby shower of the year, and I shot another family photo session. Chad celebrated 8 years at Westar Energy, and we celebrated with our friend Ted for his 40th birthday. I took a Western Caribbean cruise with 7 girlfriends to celebrate my friend Leigh Ann's 30th birthday, while Chad took a golf trip to Florida with his friend Dante and got his first eagle!

December—Chad finished his second year on the Lawrence Sustainability Advisory Board and also completed the first year of his term on the Chamber of Commerce Board. He played what seemed like his 40th round of golf for the year today—December 17!

We hope that your 2011 was full of joy and full of blessings as well. May your holiday season be filled with reminders of the true meaning of Christmas!

Much love to all,

Kim (and Chad)

Friday, October 28, 2011


Once again, my grand intentions of blogging about various things in our life have been foiled by our life. The thing that's been keeping me busy the last couple of weeks--besides laundry, cooking, cleaning and volunteering--is editing pictures of a couple of the cutest babies ever!

A couple of weeks ago I did a photo session with my friend Leigh Ann's 6-month-old munchkin--the beautiful E. Claire, also known as Emerson. Leigh Ann is well-known among her friends for making fabulous gourmet cupcakes, so when she saw a cupcake costume for Emerson, it was a no-brainer. She then got the awesome idea to make cupcakes to match Emmie's outfit and use those in a photo session, so that's what we did! We attempted to make a studio with said cupcakes on their back patio, and while the light wasn't very good at the time of day we had to shoot, there were still a few good pictures. These are just a few of my favorites.

About the time I was almost finished editing all of Emmie's pictures last weekend, we had the pleasure of going to KC to hang with our friends Vikkie and Brett, at which time I got a few shots of their lovely family and sweet boys. It was great to spend time with them, and Vikkie fixed us a fantastic dinner, part of which I've already tried to replicate at home. I think the pictures turned out okay, and I'm in LOVE with little Abram's cheeks! He is the most expressive little guy, which I believe I mentioned back in May when I did my first session with them! Could these kids be any cuter?

Oh, and the rest of the family is pretty adorable too. :)

Speaking of adorable, I couldn't resist sharing this video I saw this morning on Petfinder. Holy cow. Cuteness overload.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Go Muppets

Tonight while we were watching Modern Family (which I thought was an especially funny episode, by the way), we saw a commercial for the new Muppet movie that is apparently out or coming out soon. That reminded me of this video, which I saved to a blog post back in August because I thought it was funny enough to share, and then apparently promptly forgot.

I was a huge fan of the Muppets as a child and wanted to be Janice every time I'd "play Muppets" with my brother or friends. Now I think I'd rather be Animal, because I love the way he drums. Either way, today was the perfect day to watch this again because it was a doozie of day with a massive amount of stress, drama and tears. The cure? The Muppets and OK Go!!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Senior Session

Over the summer I spent several Saturdays walking with women from our church in the "Weekend Walking Women" growth group that I organized. One day as we were walking through Prairie Park in Lawrence, one of the women in my group mentioned that she thought it would be a nice spot to take her daughter's senior pictures. I inquired about the session they were planning, thinking that maybe we could talk cameras if she was a photography hobbyist like myself. I was horrified when she then said she was just planning on taking her daughter's senior pictures with her point-and-shoot camera. I immediately offered my free photography services, because the thought of a senior girl having less than desirable pictures to hand out to her friends (do seniors even do that in this digital age?) broke my heart!

We ended up not taking the pics over the summer because it was so ridiculously hot, but last weekend the weather was absolutely perfect and the leaves were just starting to change, so we headed to Rim Rock Farm just north of Lawrence. Rim Rock is the cross country course of KU, and since this senior is a cross country runner, she has run several meets there. Her coach called another coach, and pretty soon we had permission to shoot at this beautiful location. I had driven by there on a couple of occasions but hadn't ever actually been on the course, but it was absolutely gorgeous--just the perfect location for a photo shoot!

I had a great time with my friend and her daughter as we walked almost the entire course looking for beautiful picture backdrops and taking advantage of about every one we found. My subject was beautiful and sweet and a great sport, even when I know she was getting tired of smiling! She was also a great sport about just changing clothes in the woods and tolerating the two local dogs who joined us along the way. It was kind of a pain because they kept trying to get into pictures, but it was also kind of fun to have them as escorts all over the course!

I was pretty pleased with the pictures we got out of the session, because the light and the setting were just so great and my senior subject was just beautiful. Of course, as usual, I took entirely too many pictures and had very few bad ones to delete, so I ended up sending them a link to 130 or so pics to choose from, which they didn't seem very happy about! In fact, they didn't seem overly thrilled with the pictures at all, which was kind of disappointing. Well, I shouldn't say kind of--it was really disappointing! I wanted them to be thrilled with the results--someday I want my pictures to be worth charging money for!

Regardless, I thought my first senior subject was gorgeous and worth sharing. Here are just a few of my favorites, although there were many others that I absolutely loved. If you are on Facebook, you can see a few other of my favorites here! If you have a whole lot of time on your hands and a lot of patience, you might also be able to see the full set of pics here!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Our Church

Clearly I've been an absentee blogger again, probably much to the dismay of my dad but not many other people. I will admit life has been a little overwhelming for me lately, and when I have free time I often just get lost in another world by reading. Now that I'm all caught up on the silly but fun Janet Evanovich series, I guess it's time to get caught up on my blog.

There's been so much going on in our lives I don't really know where I would even begin if I was actually going to try and get caught up. One of the things that's been keeping me pretty busy is our church. I mentioned back in April that we'd started going to Eastlake Community Church, and soon after that we got really involved really quickly! We became members in May, just after I joined the kids team, where I teach in the K-2 classroom. Chad joined the set-up team, which means that he arrives at the school that is currently our church house at 6:30 several Sundays a month. I also recently joined the prayer team, so I have the privilege of praying for the needs of our attenders throughout the week. I lead an activity growth group over the summer, and we're currently recruiting people to join another growth group we're leading as a couple starting in just a couple of weeks.

It probably goes without saying after I just described all of our involvement, but I absolutely love our new church. The music is just fantastic every week, the pastor is super funny and engaging, the message is life-applicable and full of scripture, the people are loving and unpretentious, the church body is incredibly diverse, and the environment is casual and relaxing. Not that I was ever opposed to "normal" church, but I've come to really love a place that is very "unchurchy." I love that anyone off the street who has never stepped foot into a church in their life could come in and feel comfortable and loved. Everything about our church is designed to make newcomers feel welcome, regardless of where they are in their spiritual journey.

You can watch all sorts of videos from and about Eastlake on their Vimeo page, but there was one video that I just really thought explained the who/what/why/when of Eastlake really well.

I could probably go on and on, but let me just say that it's really nice to be excited about going to church each week. As one Eastlaker recently said, it's a church you're excited to go to and disappointed to miss!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Tin Wedding Anniversary

Today I just wanted to give a big shout out to our good friends Jake and Amber, who are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary today! Way to go, friends! Ten years is a huge accomplishment!

This morning when I went to JibJab to pick out a card for them, I didn't have any saved faces of Jamber (their celebrity name) in my account, which makes me think I hadn't ever cast them in a JibJab video! I was sure they'd agree that this was a horrible travesty, so I proceeded to pick out some good pictures of them to edit and stick into a card. I ended up choosing the same card I've used for our anniversary and that of several other friends in the last few years, but it's just too classic to resist. Plus, it's just so them--this is totally something I can see Jamber doing (wink, wink).

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

As you can see from the video, Jake and Amber are a perfect couple and wonderful dance partners. Seriously though, they are happier than 95% of the couples we know and they make marriage look easy. I'm so glad they have been blessed with each other and that we've been blessed with their friendship!

Thursday, September 01, 2011


Tonight we have a lucky pup sleeping right in between us, even though he's normally only allowed at the foot of the bed. It's a special occasion though, because today is our boy Fresco's birthday! He didn't get much of a party today, so tonight he's getting some special snuggle treatment. He did also get a special photo session earlier this evening, as you can see from the handsome photo. Since it was over 100 degrees today, he was hot and panting when he came inside--which meant that I got some lovely smiles.

Although Fresco also got a special doggie sandwich cookie made with homemade biscuits and peanut butter this evening, he was a little bummed that he didn't get a walk today. Since we walked over 3.5 miles last night, I didn't worry too much about walking this morning, especially since I was busy driving a friend to the airport. I think he felt a little slighted! Our big guy loves his daily walks, and 3.5 miles is definitely not enough to wear him out. Even though he's now five years old, he's not showing any signs of slowing down!

With that said, although he still has tons of energy for walks, our sweet man has matured in so man other ways in the 4 years since we started fostering him, and even in the 3+ years since we adopted him. He is much more calm when people come over--his manners with guests have improved greatly. He is still excitable about people and dogs walking by our house, but even that has improved a great deal! He still has his quirks and tiny issues, but overall he's just a big lanky lump of doggy love. We just couldn't adore this snuggly pup much more.

Of course, since I shared a picture of Fresco on Hope's birthday then I have to do the same for our sweet girl today. Although I have to say she wasn't quite as into the photo session as the birthday boy. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011


Just a couple of hours ago we had a special birthday celebration for our sweet, adorable and weird girl Hope, who's also often known as "Sissy" in the Luce household. I guess I'm using the term "celebration" rather loosely, considering we really only walked into the bedroom (where she'd pulled all the covers back on our bed) and fed her a special gigantic biscuit I made her earlier this evening. We sang her happy birthday as well, but since she can hear virtually nothing these days, she just looked sheepish and confused as to what was going on. Hopefully she knows it's her special day though, since she got a new pink glow-in-the-dark leash this morning along with the batch of pumpkin biscuits. As you can see below, she enjoyed her huge biscuit and her brother enjoyed his too.

I don't think I've ever mentioned here that we often call her Sissy, but I think Chad actually started calling her that in the first year we had her. Although I hated the nickname initially (I have no idea why), somehow after Steeler died I warmed up to it. I guess because once she and Celtic only had each other, it just seemed completely appropriate. We used the nickname only occasionally at first, but as the years have gone on I think we now call her Sissy more than we call her Hope, which doesn't really bother her since she can't hear us anyway!

Speaking of years gone by, today isn't truly her birthday, but it's the day we celebrate because it's the anniversary of the day we brought her home and started fostering her. I just can't believe it was only 6 years ago today! I think I probably said this on her birthday last year, but I feel like she's always been a part of our family. I can obviously look back at pictures of the boys and see that we once had no Hope, but it just seems like so many lifetimes ago.

Since we don't really know Hope's true birthday, we also don't really know how old she actually is, but today we're celebrating her 11th trip around the sun. She could be as old as 13, which you would never know except for her grey muzzle, cloudy eyes, terrible teeth and hearing loss. Seriously though, her agility and enthusiasm are still that of a puppy! She goes from dead asleep to 100 miles an hour in about 2 seconds, and she barrels all over the house and yard like a maniac when she's not snoozing. She loves her naps, but she also loves making a dramatic entrance to let you know she's inside!

How sweet is that happy face? We just love our little Sissy so much and are so thankful that's she's celebrating yet another birthday with us!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Month Gone By

I knew it had been a long time since I'd blogged, but I didn't realize how long it had actually been until last week when I was setting up my mom's Internet access and wireless network. I used her shortcut to my blog as a test to see if the connection was working, and I about fell out of my chair when I saw the date of my last post was exactly a month before!

There's so much been going on this summer--especially in the last 2 months--that has been keeping me busy. So many of these things I intended to blog about and still might dedicate entire posts to, but for now, here are the things that have been keeping me away from the computer!

1. The 3-Day--As most of my friends know, last weekend I walked 60 miles in the 3-Day in Chicago. The last several months have been filled with lots of soliciting money, writing thank yous, and walking--lots and lots of walking! Pictures from the event can be found here!

2. Moving--We obviously didn't move, but in the middle of July we helped my mom move to Lawrence! We are so thankful to have her here, but I've been very busy helping her get settled. There's always just so much to buy and to do when you move--for example, getting her Internet connection hooked up!

3. Houseguests--This summer we've had lots of people visit, which has been wonderful. My friend Kati and her son were here for several days in June, my brother was here for several days around my mom's move, my friend Emily and her sister stayed a couple of nights in July, our friend Jason stayed a couple of nights with us a few weeks ago, and our nephews stayed with us this weekend. I'm so thankful for our guest room and thankful that we've put it to use!

4. Traveling--We haven't done much traveling this summer, but we did spend a terrific 4th of July weekend in the very nice town of Kearney, Nebraska, visiting our friends Jake and Amber. Even if I don't blog about it, I hope to at least share the pictures at some point!

5. Car Shopping--During the month of June we spent many evenings scouring the Internet researching and shopping for cars. We ended up getting a new Hyundai Elantra at the beginning of July and we've already put over 3,000 miles on it!

6. Growth Groups/Journey Group--Our regular "Journey" Group that started at our old church many years ago continued to meet and study all summer, and then Chad and I also attended an 8 week Growth Group study through our new church. I also led an activity growth group of walking women on Saturday mornings, and it took quite a bit of time to plan out the routes each week!

7. Reading--I reread the first book in the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series while I was in Chicago, which I'd started years and years ago and only got about 4 books into. I recently finished collecting the whole series from Half Price Books, and now that they're all in my possession I can't put them down. My OCD really shows when I start reading, because I lose all self-control and become completely unproductive. It's why I don't read more often!

So there are all of the excuses for my absence that I can think of. Hopefully in the near future I'll get back into the habit of blogging regularly--I've missed this creative outlet!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Sneak Peek for Andrea

Last Wednesday evening I finally got the chance to do another practice photo session with my friend Andrea and her family. Even though I think the temperature was only in the 80s, it was so miserably humid outside I felt terrible for Andrea and her hubby and kids! We wandered all over the cute little Baker campus in Baldwin trying to find spots with good light and tolerable shade, and by the end of the evening I'm pretty sure we were all drenched in sweat. It was fun for me and I loved having the opportunity to practice, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't very fun for anyone else!

When I got home that night I immediately started culling and editing pictures with the intention of putting a few on the blog right away for Andrea and her family to see. But of course it got too late that night, and then the next several nights were busy, so here I am four nights later finally getting a few shots up for them to see! I'm still not entirely happy with my editing job on most of these, so hopefully I'll have time during the next week to get these re-edited and get some other good ones picked out of the bunch. Until then, here are a few quick uploads for Andrea and Randy and the adorable Olivia and Dylan!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Happy Funkin' Birthday

Today is my big brother's birthday, and even though I got the chance to wish him happy birthday on the phone, I of course had to send him an e-card as well. Of course I made him a JibJab card and of course I think it's ridiculously funny. Thankfully, he thought it was pretty funny too and didn't even yell at me when I posted it on his Facebook page.

In all seriousness, my brother is nearly as awesome in real life as he is in this video.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Happy Birthday, Brother! Can't wait to see you next weekend!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Super Beagle

Oh. My. Goodness. I'm in love with this little girl. For Real.

Could she be any cuter and smarter? I just watched like 10 of her super beagle videos and subscribed to her Youtube channel. Beagles are awesome.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Birthday Tribute

Last night I finally looked at some pictures I'd downloaded from my point-and-shoot that were taken a couple of weeks ago when my friend Kati was visiting. Since I so rarely use that camera, the beginning of the bunch actually included a few videos from the last weeks of Celtic's life. Since yesterday would have been his 14th birthday, I started to put together a little video montage in his honor, but of course I didn't have time to finish it until this evening. We miss the little munchkin so much, sometimes it's hard to even look at his sweet face without being sad. Then again, it also warms my heart to see that he was still so happy in the last weeks of his life--the second couple of clips were actually taken just 4 days before he died.

As much as we love and adore our dear Hope and adorable Fresco, our love for them will never quite be the same as our love for Celtic and Steeler. The first furry babies to steal our hearts were our sweet Beagle-ish boys.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bad Mother Father

First of all, I have to just say that I feel like a bad wife, because this morning I forgot to give my doggy daddy the Father's Day cards I bought him from the dogs and from myself! I don't think I even remembered it was Father's Day until I got to church and started seeing all the people with crazy mustaches for the Father's Day mustache contest. Yes, our church is a little goofy, but we love it!

Although I didn't remember Father's Day this morning, thankfully I remembered it earlier in the week and sent my dad a paper card and also an email card. I know he already opened it earlier today, but I just have to share it here as well because I think it's hilarious.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

There's just something so funny about seeing my Pops beating up on people! Happy Father's Day to my dad and all the other fathers out there!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Amazing Cancer Treatment

Wow. This morning I started watching a documentary online that a friend of my mom's sent me a link to, and although I'm only half way through it, I'm already just blown away. It's about a doctor in Texas who is successfully treating many patients with very aggressive cancers that haven't responded to conventional chemotherapy and radiation. His name is Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, and he's a medical doctor and Ph.D biochemist who has been attacked over and over by the FDA because his treatments do not involve conventional drugs made by pharmaceutical companies. His gene-targeted cancer medicines called Antineoplastons, which he discovered in the 1970s and produces in his own labs, are about 5 times as successful as chemo drugs in clinical trials, and they don't have any adverse side effects. It's crazy and scary that the information about them hasn't been more widely disseminated since the research has been around for decades!

The cool thing is, I'm watching the movie for free today on the Burzynski Movie website, and you can too for just a few more days--right here on my blog!

Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business from BurzynskiMovie on Vimeo.

If you don't have the time to watch the whole movie, at least watch the clips and trailers and read articles about the film. Especially for those of us who have had so much cancer in our families, this story is absolutely amazing.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Crossroads Dog Rescue

Since I'm on the subject of dog pictures, I wanted to share a few pictures I've had the pleasure of taking in the last couple of weeks. I mentioned back when I quit my job in November that I was looking forward to volunteering for a new local dog rescue I'd gotten connected with the year before. When they were just starting out they didn't have much that I could help with, but now that Crossroads Dog Rescue is a growing organization, they have lots of foster dogs who need good pictures for the Internets! I'm super excited to be able to help them in that way!

So a couple of times in the last two weeks I've gone to meet the founder/president to do pictures of their adoptable dogs. It's been so much fun to meet the pups and so exciting to feel like I'm contributing to the world of dog rescue again! They specialize in neonatal rescue, mostly taking in pregnant or new mothers with full litters, since newborn puppies have such a hard time staying healthy in shelter environments. The pups are raised in a healthy and safe home with lots of human interaction, and they generally get adopted as soon as they are old enough to leave their mom, who eventually gets adopted as well. In the less that two years that Crossroads has been an official rescue organization, they've saved and adopted out almost 100 dogs already!

As Crossroads continues to grow and add foster homes to their network, they'll have more and more rescue puppies and dogs to choose from, so check out their blog or Facebook page to keep up with all their adoptable furry friends. You can also contact them at crossroadsdogs (at) if you're interested in becoming one of their licensed foster families. Oh, and check out my recent pictures of their adoptable dogs! Most of those pictured have already been adopted, so hopefully they'll have more pups for me to photograph soon!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

A Dog's Life

Last Wednesday I spent much of the day in Topeka completing the arrangements for our boys' final resting place. I say boys' and not boy's because Steeler's remains were actually involved as well as Celtic's. When Steeler died so suddenly five years ago, we had no idea where to have him cremated, so we took him to the Lawrence Humane Society where I volunteered. They were kind enough to do the cremation free of charge, but since their equipment wasn't exactly state of the art, let's just say the remains weren't processed very well. We didn't worry too much about it though, since it was always our intention to lay Steeler to rest with his brother when this time came.

So anyway, I took the little can containing Steeler's remains over to Topeka to the wonderful folks at Heavenly Pet Memorials. I'd discovered them on the Internet a week or so before Celtic passed, and I just can't say enough about how great they were. They were kind enough to take care of Celtic's body on a holiday weekend and also to process Steeler's remains with Celtic's for no extra charge. Now we have their finely processed ashes all put together in a beautiful and safely sealed velvet bag. Heavenly Pet Memorials had a big selection of urns and boxes, and they helped me pick out a beautiful box in which we'll eventually put their remains. Not only that, but they practically counseled me as well. Jody was the consultant there last Wednesday, and she sat there patiently as I talked about our dogs, cried a little, and even showed her pictures. I was there probably a good half hour, and she couldn't have been more caring and consoling.

When I got home from that trip to Topeka, I immediately started the search for the perfect picture to have engraved/etched onto the box. In my mind, I knew the one I wanted to use and remembered the frame it used to be in, but I couldn't for the life of me find the frame or the original in our old boxes of prints. I probably searched through pictures for at least 8 hours total before I finally found the negative on a roll that had no other pictures of the dogs at all. In the process of searching though, I found so many other pictures of the boys that I really loved, so now I'm not even sure if the sought after picture is even the one I want to use! Here are the ones that I'm most strongly considering--I would love your input in the comments!

From their puppyhood

At age 1

At about 3 years old

At about age 5

At age 9, just before Steeler died

For me, searching through all of those pictures was very therapeutic. As I looked back on the very full and active life that Celtic had, it was more difficult to be sad about his passing. As I was reminded of how close he and his brother were, it made me that much happier to think of them reunited in heaven.

During the great picture search I was also inspired to scan and then edit all of my favorite pictures--since I was a pretty horrible photographer in those pre-digital days! Someday I'll hopefully have time to put it to music in a better format, but for now, I hope you enjoy the slideshow of their lives!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


My aunt just sent this to me and it's seriously one of the funniest things I've seen in quite a while. Of course, since it has over 2 million hits, I'm guessing you may have already seen it. Just in case you haven't though, this one's a keeper.

This guy is adorable, but apparently not quite as smart as most Border Collies. Maybe he's just obsessive-compulsive?

Sunday, June 05, 2011


Yesterday my wonderful husband and I celebrated our anniversary, and although I don't normally like to toot my own horn, I have to say I'm kind of proud of us. Although 16 years didn't seem like that big of a deal last year, 17 seems pretty impressive. Maybe it's because 17 seems like it's on the upside of 20 instead of the downside of 15? Maybe it's because people often gasped when I told them what anniversary we were celebrating? I'm not sure exactly why, but when I say we've been married 17 years that sounds like a really long time. Not in a bad way at all--just in the sense that not many of our peers have been married more than ten.

Really though, I shouldn't be prideful about our lengthy marriage at all, because it's really not through our own merit and hard work that we've made it through 17 years. Honestly, being married to Chad couldn't possibly be considered work. God has just blessed me with a loving, affectionate, caring, helpful, loyal and incredibly supportive husband, and He's blessed us with a fairly low-maintenance relationship. We still have so much fun together and share so many interests; we just don't have to try very hard to get along. We love spending time together more than most couples we know--maybe because we are still such good friends.

I often hear people say that marriage is hard work, but by the grace of God, ours hasn't been. Although life in general is often messy and challenging, marriage for us has been relatively easy. We could not be more thankful for the incredible gift of a happy marriage that we've been given.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Our Little Man

As most of our friends and family know, our little man Celtic passed away early Sunday morning. Although we are very thankful for the almost four weeks we had with him after his diagnosis early last month, we are still incredibly heartbroken. I thought it would be easier knowing ahead of time that we were going to lose him, but I guess no matter how much time we have with our pets, it never seems to be quite enough.

Maybe this loss was more difficult than I thought it would be because of all of Celtic's ups and downs during the last month. On the day that we canceled his surgery, we thought for sure he'd be gone within a couple of weeks. He was so weak and lethargic, and his tumor was still growing rapidly. A couple of days later we started him on a new anti-inflammatory called Piroxicam that was supposed to help with his joint pain. When Dr. Layton suggested it, she mentioned in passing that it also had some "cancer fighting properties." Since she didn't make a big deal of it we didn't think much of it either, but after just a couple of doses, it was obvious that Celtic's tumor had quit growing and was actually getting smaller. In less than two weeks, the tumor's decrease in size was almost as dramatic as the increase had been in the previous two weeks.

We were so thankful for the Piroxicam, since it clearly improved Celtic's mobility and his overall quality of life in his last month. He took a short walk almost every day, had a good appetite and generally seemed pretty much his happy little self. In fact, on the Friday before last, when I was upstairs taking some pictures of 3-Day equipment to send to my friend and 3-Day teammate Amber, the little stinker came right up the stairs behind me, which he was not supposed to do. The entire time I was trying to take pictures he was either trying to steal the socks and pillow or get inside the duffel bag. He was so cute and just as ornery as ever.

It's just so hard to believe that this was just 8 days before he died. I actually started to write an update about him after I took these pics, and now I'm really glad I never got around to finishing it. I probably would have blamed myself for jinxing things when he took a turn for the worse just a couple of days later. It was so strange, because on the Monday after I took these shots, I was at our regular vet with Fresco, and he was somewhat surprised to hear that Celtic was doing so well. Dr. Coles thought maybe we should give Dr. Layton a call to reconsider the surgery since the Piroxicam might have given us a window of opportunity. I called Dr. Layton's assistant later that day and left her a message about how well he was doing and how we wanted to talk to Dr. Layton and get her thoughts on rescheduling. It was almost like Celtic heard the conversation and decided to nix the idea, because within a couple hours his mood and health had totally changed. Out of nowhere, he was completely lethargic and could barely even get up. The next morning, he could only walk about 3 houses down the block and could barely make it back home--the previous day he had walked almost a half mile with no problems!

Although he was a little bit better the day after that, his health and mood were up and down all week. By Saturday he really seemed to have improved--so much so that Chad had actually decided to go to Salina to hunt turkeys on Sunday. Celtic had such a great day on Saturday. He walked farther than he had in several days (and wanted to keep going) and ate a hearty dinner. After dinner he was super spunky and followed Chad all over the house trying to get a bite of bagel. Then about 8 p.m. that night something changed--he became very weak and despondent. We initially thought he would feel better after a good night's sleep. It took us several hours to figure out that this was no ordinary lethargy, at which point we assumed his tumor had finally caused internal bleeding. We hoped he would just fall asleep and pass peacefully, but he barely rested all night long and was clearly very uncomfortable. We finally went to the emergency vet in Topeka at about 4:30 on Sunday morning, and the vet confirmed that there was nothing we could except put him to sleep. By this time, it was obvious that Celtic was in terrible pain. Dr. Carder, who was the vet who attended to Steeler when he died at Stone House back in 2006, thought that Celtic was suffering from the same condition that killed his brother--peritonitis. Dr. Carder guessed that his tumor had actually spread far beyond his armpit and had actually ruptured his gastrointestional tract somewhere. As difficult as it was to let him go, once we realized how much he was hurting, we wished we'd made the decision to go to Topeka hours earlier.

I know hindsight is always 20/20, but I could just kick myself that I didn't recognize Celtic's lethargy on Saturday night for what it was--pain. While he was groaning a little and breathing strangely, he wasn't panting at all, which is usually the tell-tale sign that a dog is hurting. While we knew he was uncomfortable, we thought maybe the internal bleeding was just causing him to be extremely weak and tired. It just didn't seem possible that he could go from being so spunky in the early evening to near death in such a short time, and it never occurred to us that his cancer could have spread so far so quickly. We were anticipating that when it spread, it would spread to the area of his heart/lungs first--not that it would attack farther down in his poor little body. It just breaks my heart that he had such a painful last few hours of his life and we weren't able to help him sooner.

Although Celtic's great day on Saturday fooled us somewhat, we're also very thankful that his last day on earth was a good one. We imagined that his decline would be more gradual and painful, but as it turned out, he got to enjoy life right down to the last day--just like his brother Steeler. We are comforted knowing that they are now running and playing together in heaven.

In Memory of Celtic Bird Luce
June 26, 1997-May 29, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Anniversary Acknowledgement

Today I have to give a shout out to our good friends Heather and Grant, even though I know they rarely read my blog. I like to tell myself it's because they can only get a slow connection to the Internets out in the country where they live, but in reality I need to just admit to myself that some people just aren't blog readers! Sadly, I'm not much of a blog reader these days either. Since I no longer have a regular routine at my computer, going to Google Reader only crosses my mind about once a week.

Regardless of whether they see this post or not though, I have to say how proud and honored I am to have them as friends since they are celebrating their 20th anniversary today! How awesome is that? We have no other close friends who've been married for 20 years--in fact, they're our only friends who've been married longer than we have! I think it's pretty darn impressive--not to mention highly unusual these days!

Our dear friends were kind enough to invite us to celebrate with them this weekend with a stay in nearby Weston, but unfortunately we didn't feel like we could get a dogsitter for the night due to Celtic's health. I'm bummed we won't be there to commemorate this milestone, but I'm sure they'll still have a wonderful time without us! Congratulations, Grant and Heather!

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mike and Tiffany

Today I finally finished editing and uploading the engagement pictures I did two weeks ago for our good friends Mike and Tiffany. Mike and Chad met way back in 1990 when they played football together at Hutchinson Community College. They became good friends and eventually roommates, and a few years later Mike was one of the groomsmen in our wedding. Although we only met Tiff in the fall of 2009 when they started dating, I feel like we've known each other longer because we get along so well! She's super smart, amazingly talented and hilariously funny, and we're looking forward to their wedding in Florida next April!

I was way honored that Tiff and Mike asked me to do their engagement photos (along with a few family pictures with them and Mike's son Maddox), but I was a little nervous because I had only done kid/family/baby sessions before theirs. While I'm getting better at spotting good lighting for shots, I'm still terrible at directing people into poses that look normal and natural. Thankfully, Mike and Tiff had lots of ideas about what they wanted to do and poses they liked. Some worked and some didn't, but that's the beauty of digital photography--you can just delete the ones that look dorky!

Once again, during my initial round of editing, I had a terrible time deleting any. I ended up taking my favorite version of every pose--and there were a ton of different poses! Even when I knew that a picture wasn't one of my favorites, I still kept it because I was afraid it might be one of their favorites! I was glad I did, because Tiffany and Mike definitely chose lots of favorites that I wouldn't have considered! It's just interesting how different people have completely different tastes in poses and processing.

Speaking of processing, in this batch of pictures I ended up using a lot more "actions" in Photoshop than I normally do, only because that's what Tiffany really liked. She loved the black and whites and Pioneer Woman's "Old West" technique especially, so I did a lot of different versions of each of their favorite pics. In the end, this is the one that they choose as their official engagement photo!

While I think this is a great picture, I also think it's funny that it's totally not the one that I would have chosen as my favorite. For some reason I absolutely love the more candid shots--the ones where Mike and Tiff are less posed and more engaged (get it...engaged?) with each other are the ones I love. My point is, I think I'm forever going to be editing every picture in the bunch because I'm always going to remember this session when the "clients" chose completely different favorites than I did!

Regardless, I think there were a lot of good ones in the set. If you have a few minutes, take a look at them and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Birthday #1

On Saturday Chad and I had the pleasure of attending our little friend Eli's first birthday party. His parents (our good friends Pat and Kristin) threw a wonderful monkey-themed shindig for the little guy complete with an incredible monkey cake and all sorts of other fantastic food. I got to be the official photographer of the event, and I'm glad I could help out in that way since Kristin had her hands full with entertaining guests and Pat was busy manning the grill. Although I haven't gone through and edited all the pictures from the day, here are enough to tell the story of his party!

There were some terrific decorations.

Kristin and her mom made an incredible (and tasty) monkey cake.

Eli was very excited to see his friend Lakin and hugged on her almost the entire day.

He wasn't terribly into opening presents, but he did enjoy playing with the new toys once they were open. I got him this baby blackberry and he immediately knew what to do with it!

Eli had a split second of uncertainty when first given his mini-monkey cake.

The uncertainty soon gave way to this...

...and to this...

...and this! It was a very impressive display of cake eating/playing!

Today was Eli's actual birthday, and this evening I enjoyed more time with the little munchkin and his family when I did his official one-year-old photo session. I came home and started editing right away, and after just a single pass through the bunch I found quite a few that I really like. I hope his parents like them too! I uploaded them quickly in low-quality just so I could provide a sneak peak today!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Plethora of Pictures

The last few weeks I've had several photography gigs, although I'm not sure if I'm really allowed to call them gigs yet if I'm not charging any money. Maybe someday I'll set up an actual business and website, but for now I'm content to just practice. It's fun for me, and I love to (hopefully) provide pictures for my friends that will adequately capture a special occasion or moment in time.

The disadvantage to taking so many pictures lately is that I'm having a hard time keeping up with all the editing and sharing of them! I take so many darn pictures at each session or event, it then takes me hours to go through and delete, crop, sharpen and color correct them. My biggest problem is that I have no ability to discern which are bad and which are good. It's like 99% of the time I can find something I like about almost every picture I take, and then I can't delete any of them! I have to go through the batches four or five times to figure out which ones aren't worth keeping, and even then I keep thinking that the ones I end up deleting might be ones that someone else would really like! I just really need to work on my discerning eye!

I'm so slow at this whole editing process that I just tonight finished the pictures I took of our friend Vikkie and Brett and their kids two weeks ago. There were just so many in the batch I liked, I could only narrow it down to 192 pictures! I know that's so ridiculous, and I know not all of them are worth printing, but I just couldn't help myself. Especially because of baby Abe, there were just too many absolutely precious shots. There were probably 100 different adorable expressions by him alone!

Here are just a few of my favorites. If you have a few minutes and have an interest, feel free to look through all 192 of them here!